Durham Women fell to a crushing 4-1 defeat to Aston Villa at New Ferens Park in the FA WSL2.
In their first home game in over a month, the Wildcats were beaten by a brace a piece from Beth Merrick and Olivia Fergusson, though Jemma Purfield did offer a stunning response to bring the score back to 3-1.
This reverse sees Durham slip below the Villains to third bottom in the WSL 2 standings.
The hosts were without injured pair Amelia Pereira and Emily Scott, who left the field during the 1-0 loss at Oxford last weekend.
The Wildcats’ first forward foray saw Jordan Atkinson brilliantly cut inside to shoot straight at Jess Myers, but they soon fell behind.
In the 27th minute, a deep free kick from the right was met by Merrick and she crashed a header beyond Alderson into the corner for her first of the season.
Durham responded well to falling behind, with Beth Hepple unfortunate to find Myers blocking her path, having dribbled past a number of challenges in a mazy midfield run.
Lee Sanders’ side threatened again when Atkinson ran in behind Hayley Crackle on the left, but nobody in a white shirt was able to reach her teasing delivery, and the Wildcats remained a goal down heading into the interval.
Hepple managed the first attempt of the second period with a free kick from distance, but Durham fell further behind six minutes after the break.
Wilkinson’s measured pass fed Fergusson, who beat Alderson to the ball and rounded the home custodian to roll Villa’s second of the afternoon into an empty net.
Wilkinson and Fergusson were causing the Wildcats some problems at the back, with the latter’s centre just evading McCue’s lunge, and another run from the right led to a third.
Ferguson shimmied past Havelock on the corner of the box, before unleashing a low shot that deflected to deceive Alderson and find the corner.
Durham refused to lie down though, with Purfield cutting in to let fly left-footed, with her strike just missing the top corner.
She then went one better in the 74th minute. Again turning 30 yards from goal, she unleashed a stunner into the corner to bring the Wildcats back within two.
However, the visitors restored their three-goal lead soon afterwards, as a cross from the right found Merrick, and she steered in her second.
The Villains threatened to add a fifth through Wilkinson, but Alderson was on her toes to expertly parry over the crossbar.
Purfield might have netted again, but Baker intercepted to leave the final score at 4-1.